The jihadist group of the Islamic State lost control of two of the last major cities under its control in Syria and Iraq on Friday, while Syrian troops and Iraqi security forces advanced in the border region of the Euphrates valley.
Simultaneous assaults on Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria and Al-Qaim in western Iraq hit IS again in its old heart, leaving Albu Kamal, on the Syrian side of the border, as the last city of the low note your control.
The jihadist group that once claimed the self-styled “caliphate” spanning fringes of Syria and Iraq has seen its proto-state collapse in recent months under the pressure of multiple offensives.
In October, he lost his de facto Syrian capital Raqa after an assault of more than four months carried out by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-Arab alliance backed by the United States.
The Syrian army announced today that its assault backed by Russia had recaptured the entire city of Deir Ezzor, in the east of the country, rich in oil, while Iraqi forces captured the border post of Husaybah and the nearby city of Al-Qaim .
“The army forces (…) restored the security and stability of the entire city of Deir Ezzor,” a spokesman for the Syrian army command said in a statement broadcast live on state television.
“Deir Ezzor represents the final phase in the complete elimination of Daesh,” the statement added, using the Arabic acronym for the group.
The city “was the headquarters of the leadership of the organization, and losing it, lose their ability to direct terrorist operations,” he added.
State television said army engineering units were combing captured neighborhoods to clean mines and other explosives.
Syrian forces entered the city of Deir Ezzor in September, breaking an Islamic State siege of nearly three years in parts of the provincial capital controlled by the government.
The battle has been fierce, with heavy Russian air strikes and Syrian artillery fire that has left much of the city in ruins.
A reporter who contributed to the AFP inside the city on Thursday saw entire floors of buildings that had crashed into those below, while in others, the facades were completely blown up to reveal empty and destroyed interiors.
The trenches dug by the IS fighters were still visible, as were the Army minesweepers who worked to locate and defuse the explosives placed by the jihadists.
Before the Syrian war began in March 2011 with anti-government protests, around 300,000 people lived in the city, the capital of Deir Ezzor province along Syria’s eastern border with Iraq.